Automated Solutions Transform IndustryThu, 01/18/2018 - 10:47
From improved safety standards to greater streamlining, automated solutions and technology will help companies face a growing range of operational and strategic challenges throughout the supply chain, while tackling inefficient practices as the oil and gas industry comes back from the recent downturn, says Mario Salas, Director General of Petroindustrias.
The company is dedicated to the integration and application of technology to improve operations in industrial plants, with extensive experience helping EPCs implement new technological solutions. Salas points to a project carried out for the Southwest Research Institute, a nonprofit science and engineering center based in San Antonio, Texas, as an example of how technology can generate gains.
“(The institute) requested a study exploring the reasons why PEMEX’s crude was contaminated with chlorine, a problem that was damaging its installations,” Salas says. To do this, Petroindustrias created a simulation plant to discover the root cause of the problem and as a result PEMEX Refining saved approximately MX$150 million (US$8 million) from PEMEX E&P’s insurance.
Inefficiency is a key target for technology applications and Salas sees how solutions like those provided by Petroindustrias can help improve industry practices. “Historically there has been no way to correctly document the quality of gasoline imported from the US to Mexico, as different grades get mixed in together,” he says. “With the use of automated measurement technology, there will be more certainty as to which grades have gone into the mix.” This in turn provides the whole industry with more security.
Salas believes education is a factor in bridging the industry’s tech divide. Together with its commercial partner OSIsoft, Petroindustrias worked on a symposium for PEMEX during 2016 that brought together industry players to discuss automation technologies. “We do not just provide a product, we provide an integrated service to our customers,” Salas says, drawing on Petroindustrias’ dedication to educating its clients about the many applications and advantages of upgrading their current software solutions.
This educational aspect is particularly relevant when considering the future use of automated solutions, due to the expected talent gap. “It is no good just having the software installed,” warns Salas. “If there is no one who can use it, it will be useless.” This problem, Salas adds, is already rearing its head in the oil and gas industry
“We often speak to companies that have these technologies available but never use them,” he says. Whether the problem is a lack of knowledge, a lack of perceived value or a hesitance to break with the status quo, Petroindustrias says it is doing its part to tackle the issues. “We offer our clients demonstrations to showcase the true benefits of our technology,” he says.
“Petroindustrias trains its staff to know PEMEX’s refineries more than anyone who might come from abroad,” Salas says. This in-depth knowledge of Mexico’s NOC is an advantage for his company, distinguishing it from the international heavyweights that know the global industry well but which may lack local knowledge.
“Our relatively small size is also a great benefit,” he adds, because Petroindustrias can work more closely with Mexican companies such as operators entering the country’s oil and gas industry for the first time. While large IOCs will bring state-of-the-art technology with them, the many new Mexican players may be daunted by the scope of implementing automated systems in their first-time oil operations. “Petroindustrias is passionate about providing these new Mexican companies with added services so they can enter the oil and gas market successfully,” Salas says.
Salas is keen to continue partnering with industry heavyweights such as SGS and Thermo Fisher, with which Petroindustrias already works. “We want to continue being a leader for PEMEX in automated solutions,” he says.